Every fall, a new group of students is welcomed onto the Maryville College campus and into the MC community.
Freshman students, as well as transfers from local community and four-year colleges, arrive at Maryville seeking to grow academically and socially.
However, unbeknownst to most, their decisions to matriculate at Maryville and contribute their energies and talents to the community are the result of countless hours of effort and careful strategy from many departments on campus.
Maryville saw a six percent decrease in enrollment last year, as a result of a variety of issues, including cutbacks in athletic recruitment, economic factors and heightened selectivity.
“The admissions committee was much more selective this year,” said Dr. Dolphus Henry, vice president of enrollment.
Additionally, some students are admitted under review. If a student is admitted under review, he is required to follow a strict set of guidelines to insure that he is able to thrive on campus.
“The curriculum here is writing intensive and communication intensive. There is a significant amount of accountability,” said MC president Dr. Tom Bogart.
One of the strongest indicators of whether or not a student will seek to enroll at Maryville is if he or she files a FAFSA and sends it to the college’s financial aid office.
“Out of the 536 admitted students that did not file a FAFSA for the 2011-2012 year, only one enrolled,” said Henry.
This year, the admissions office applied a new approach toward packaging merit scholarship and admissions letters, in order to prompt admitted students to file FAFSAs. Information about additional scholarships, such as fine arts (theatre, music, choir), mountain challenge and Isaac Anderson scholarships are packaged along with the other information.
Need-based aid information is to be released to incoming students by the end of February.
Marketing strategies for spreading Maryville’s name were also amped significantly this year.
Since finances are a key source of stress for incoming students and their families, MC’s marketing strategies have been geared to address this issue head-on.
The college is currently in the process of running a three-year marketing campaign called “Stretch Your Mind … Not Your Budget,” which emphasizes Maryville’s affordability.
In January, Maryville hosted its second-annual virtual town hall, in which families were invited to submit questions about financial aid via email and have their inquiries answered by a live panel consisting of a current MC student, the parents of an MC student and Henry.
Marketing tactics for this year were mostly aimed towards raising visibility in the regional area, specifically in Blount, Knox, Sevier and Anderson counties.
MC marketing plans to target out-of-state students more aggressively within the next five years, which would add a significant amount of cultural diversity to the student body.
“It is certainly on our agenda in the next few years to look at states where we have been successful and target those states. We don’t want to just be a regional college,” said Mary Leidig, director of marketing.
This year, the goal for the incoming class of 2016 is 330 students, including 60 transfer students.
According to the number of applications and FAFSAs that have been received, MC is on track to reach that goal. The applications of accepted students indicate great potential for a diverse, academically strong freshman class.
“The people we’re looking for have that combination of academic ability, drive and engagement in the community as a whole,” Bogart said.